Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co chairman Kao Cheng-li (高振利) has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud and false labeling, while the company was fined NT$38 million (US$1.2 million), the Intellectual Property Court said yesterday.
Chang Chi, along with Wei Chuan Food Corp, Formosa Oilseed Processing Co and Flavor Full Foods, was found last year to have been selling adulterated edible oil mixed with lower-grade oils, such as cottonseed oil or canola oil, as well as using illegal additives, such as copper chlorophyllin.
The Changhua District Court had previously handed down 16 years in prison for Kao, NT$50 million in fines for the company, and two years and 10 months for two senior staff members —Wen Jui-pin (溫瑞彬) and Chou Kun-ming (周昆明).
Nine months of Wen’s and Chou’s prison sentence can be commuted to fines, the court said.
Further prosecution of Wen’s and Chou’s sentences was also deferred for five years. Deferred prosecution means delaying the prosecution when an investigation finds enough evidence to indict the accused from one to three years, according to Article 57 of the Criminal Code.
The Intellectual Property Court said it reduced Kao’s sentence to 12 years from the initial 16 on the grounds he had pleaded guilty to some of the charges and shown remorse by settling with dealers.
However, the court ruled that Chang Chi was not guilty of fraud in making grape-seed oil for Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar), but failed to complete a civilian contract,.
Taisugar claimed it was a victim when its products, subcontracted to Chang Chi, had been found among the contaminated oils.
The state-run firm said Chang Chi had failed to follow its requirements and adulterated the oils with additives of its own accord.
The ruling was only for parts of the case related to the Criminal Code, the court said.
The reparations — NT$6.6 million to Taisugar and NT$38 million to Formosa Oilseed — to be paid by Kao, Wen, Chou and Chang Chi, as mandated under the Civil Code, can still be appealed, the court said.
Kao and the prosecution said they found the ruling unsatisfactory and would appeal it.
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